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Ask Slashdot: Preparing For the 'App Bubble' To Pop?

Soulskill posted 1 year,21 days | from the covering-all-your-bases dept.

Software 240

Niris writes "I am currently a senior in computer science, and am expecting to graduate in December. I have an internship lined up in Android development with medium sized company that builds apps for much larger corporations, and I have recently begun a foray into iOS development. So far my experience with Android ranges from a small mobile game (basically Asteroids), a Japanese language study aid, and a fairly large mobile app for a local non-profit that uses RSS feeds, Google Cloud Messaging and various APIs. I have also recently started working with some machine learning algorithms and sensors/the ADK to start putting together a prototype for a mobile business application for mobile inspectors. My question: is my background diverse enough that I don't have to worry about finding a job if all the predictions that the 'app bubble' will pop soon come true? Is there another, similar area of programming that I should look into in order to have some contingencies in place if things go south? My general interests and experience have so far been in mobile app development with Java and C++ (using the NDK), and some web development on both the client and server side. Thank you!"

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Invest in shaving soap instead (5, Funny)

smitty_one_each (243267) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343403)

Mobile app bubble
Professional stubble
For who will browse jack
Amid the economic rubble?
Burma Shave

Re:Invest in shaving soap instead (1)

gmhowell (26755) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343743)

Mobile app bubble

Professional stubble

For who will browse jack

Amid the economic rubble?

Burma Shave


Re:Invest in shaving soap instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343795)

Someone going to do a new version of the witches of MacBeth next? Probably no shortage of volunteers to be the third witch and toss the banker's liver into the boiling cauldron.

Is there an app bubble? (4, Interesting)

yincrash (854885) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343445)

I'm not sure it is. Maybe I'm biased because I am employed as an Android developer, but both Android and iOS developers are both incredibly in demand right now. Every brand wants or has an app, and every webapp needs a native mobile counterpart to be taken seriously. Weren't the app bubble predictions back in 2010? I don't think they hold any water any more. Mobile is the future and isn't going anywhere.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (5, Insightful)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343539)

You listed exactly the reasons everyone thinks it's a bubble... you can't usually see such things coming, and it seems impossible that the well could dry up instantly... and yet it often does. (e.g. rewind your reasons to year 2000... ``Every brand wants or has [a web] app''...)

Re:Is there an app bubble? (4, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343697)

OK, so there was a .com bubble, that burst about the year 2000. So web developers haven't had any jobs for the last dozen years.

Except they have. Apart from the general world wide woes of a poor economy since 2008, web developers are still developing. There might have been a tech stock bubble, that made a bunch of people very rich over a short time, and then most of them very poor again. But the internet didn't go away. And nearly every business needs a presence.

As to the intern, he shouldn't worry. App development isn't going away, and even if it did the skills are very transferable.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343941)

Think back to that dot-com bubble. What actually dried up? Wasn't it the get-rich-quick VC money thrown at startups? The demand for the product (web sites) didn't go away. Just the retarded pie-in-the-sky, brain-dead ideas and money-grubbing schemers. Those with a working business model (Amazon? Google?) are still around and are stronger than ever.

Fast forward to the latest bubble (mobile apps), and you'll soon find the same story. There's a bubble: everybody and their dog jumped on the mobile app bandwagon back in 2008. That bubble was short-lived, but it started a larger bubble. Now, think back to pre-dot-com days. There was a small bubble in the mid/late 90's, then there was the huge bubble in 1999 and 2000. We're riding that huge bubble right now. This too shall pop.

It only takes a quick glance at the Play Store to realize that there are a shit-ton of shitty apps made by sketchy companies that probably won't exist in a year. Most of them have manuals (and text resources) in Engrish.

Note to foreign developers: if you want me to load your app onto my phone (presumably for your profit), learn proper grammar and spelling for my language or hire someone who already knows it. My mom plays a Bejeweled clone that tells her "no more move" when she's run out of moves.

Thus, a bubble. And these developers will be looking for other work soon. (And before you label me a xenophobe, I don't even claim to speak anything other than en-US. Note that. I don't claim to, much less represent that as a professional skill.)

Re:Is there an app bubble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344463)

As to the intern, he shouldn't worry. App development isn't going away, and even if it did the skills are very transferable.

Transferable to India for lower labour costs. The OP should be working on a their own business plan and applications while in the employ of another company. Eventually, you will be deemed not a suitable cultural fit as you quickly approach 40.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (4, Interesting)

currently_awake (1248758) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343845)

1-New economies grow quickly, especially when they are replacing something else (like desktops). The mobile space (phones, pads) is new so it's growing. once the market matures it will slow down. 2-Never put your backup plan in the same basket as your primary one. If something is easy to switch to from apps then everyone will do it, and you'' be swamped with competition.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344049)

Yes, that is quite true. But smartphones are useful in every day life.

A webpage itself is pretty generic most times, not to mention slow and limited because of years of W3C destruction. It is only just recovering with WHATWG spearheading development, everyone of any worth is ignoring W3C as an idea now, it is just broken and slow, not to mention monolithic, the opposite of what web tech can and needs to be.

When it is an app, it can be very specific, it can be fast and even fairly heavy in the media department too.
Apps are also pretty easy to get running across everything very similar, even between Android and iOS these days.

And the best part is most of your experience with working on those things translate heavily to many other careers, especially embedded platforms in general, damn I never even thought about that one, there is still quite high demand for that overall in addition to the hardware side of things.

And since things are also done on the cheap and there is very light, if even any, server usage, it is insanely cheaper to run than a website, like so much so that I am surprised so many websites still even exist as websites.
Do some peer2peer onion routing and you could even take out considerable back-end lifting servers and only keep a few around for emergencies like catastrophic DNS failures that blackhole entire subnets or even countries at times.(only happens every other year though so it is still low even at that)
As much as it sounds awful to say, a considerable amount of app processing could literally be left to the cloud and peers using said app.
Just make sure that thing was secure though.

And the power is out on the streets outside. I've said too much, the spooks are coming, I mentioned P2P too many times.
Tell my .. oh wait nobody loves me. Tell nobody I don't love them!
Damn though, that is stupidly dark. My eyes are dying, I can't even see stars.

You can too see it coming (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344303)

you can't usually see such things coming

The Internet bubble was obvious. Other bubbles through time, have been very obvious - the only thing not obvious was the point of collapse, not if they would collapse.

There is no "App Bubble". The truth is that going forward, way more people are going to be using tablets and smartphones than use or used computers. Understanding any of the mobile platforms and how to make the most of them is a greatly valued skill, and will only increase.

The other aspect as others have mentions is server side programming which will always be a good field. But if he enjoys mobile development it's easy to know a career in that is possible.

That hasn't changed (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344585)

it just got easier to write the apps, and India programers got common. And Malaysian programmers. And Spain, Greece, Mexico. You got outsourced. Whine all you want about "quality", but you can't compete with people living for 1/100 your cost. It's also tough to compete with people who've never had anything bad happen to them in their lives. Survival bias. When you've got so many programmers you get to pick and choose those one.

But the bubble isn't gone. There's 100 million android devices. They need software. There's no bubble, there's a really big market.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343555)

couterpoint, its been a few years, and most everyone that wanted an app has one and its just minor details keeping it fresh

Re:Is there an app bubble? (2)

SerpentMage (13390) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343565)

I agree with you. The app bubble if it existed popped a while back. Mobile development is where it is at. I also feel we have only scratched the surface of what is possible. The real problem we have right now and hopefully open source will be able to fix this, is that we have information and api silo's. We have a dropbox API, we have an amazon API, we have a google API, and the list goes on.

I am not saying that we will be sharing and free love with the data. I am more saying, that in the future google data and amazon data can be easily exchanged. Granted it will not happen with google and amazon, as I think it will be a Redhat or Canoical that will change this. Or maybe even some company we have not yet heard about!

Re:Is there an app bubble? (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344073)

Things didn't burst, they changed. In 2010-2011, when Apple started allowing in-app purchases, the fundamental nature of apps changed.

Before that, an app could cost 99 cents, additional levels and such would be in another app.

In-app purchases changed games fundamentally, just like DLC changed the console. Now, games are free. However, if one wants levels, additional items, or other things, there is the store, and prices for in-game things can even go to C-note level or higher. Games went from having a difficulty level that was meant for most people to complete to one that was noticably harder, in order to force people to buy some in-game currency or items to make it easier.

Take the average tower defense game. A couple bucks got you a decent shooter. Now, it might be free, but each tower now costs 1-2 bucks to unlock, each additional level might cost something, another powerup to help with getting currency is a few bucks, and the level difficulty is scaled where someone has to buy the "uber-nuke" one-time use item in order to win a level.

Utilities have followed this path. In the past, you bought a photo editing program (for example). Now, the program is free, but each tool costs a buck. Want a yellow filter? 99 cents. Want crop capability? 99 cents. Ability to save? $4.99.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343577)

Creating apps is easy- making money at it is hard- and that's the reason it is a bubble. You need a LOT of volume to make money off of 99 cent applications.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (1)

yincrash (854885) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343601)

It is possible to be employed by a company and do android development. Making your own 99ct apps is not the only way to make a living.

Which just means you need four times the volume (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343673)

That company doing app development had other employees to pay besides developers. Also overhead, workers comp, unemployment taxes, business personal property taxes, Obamacare, etc. etc. All of which means they have to bring in at least four times as much revenue per developer compared to someone doing it from home. The company structure, with business taxes and regulations, makes it a lot HARDER, not easier.

Re:Which just means you need four times the volume (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344247)

The company paying you is likely giving away the app for free, not selling it for $0.99. Does your bank charge you for the mobile app? Nope, but someone has to build it. That's just one example...there's a lot of companies that make money in other ways that still need mobile apps to support their other business and it's become an expectation of their customers. So companies need to hire people to build and maintain those apps.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (1)

marnues (906739) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344339)

Yes, definitely. It's not glamorous, but support apps are huge. By that I mean apps that support a business model, rather than being the business model. My company builds free mobile apps that work with our hardware. We will continue to support the apps as long as the hardware is bringing in the money. And boy, do they bring in the money.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (2)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343607)

Convergence is the future, apps and sites that work on any platform. Efforts like Bootstrap which for most projects are taking a mallet to a mosquito are nonetheless a sign of things to come. Apps don't have the ability in and of themselves to store a whole lot of data, nor should they, but bigger iron does, and if you can access and manipulate data from one device you should be able to do it from another in the same way.

I'm very excited about the peer to peer developments in browsers as well as webGL, for gaming this opens up stunning new horizons, it's only a matter of time before that hits the mobile space as well, and I'm mildly amused by stories of VCs unable to buy small gaming shops because they are just too profitable - the long and the short of it is, when the money men get involved, a bubble is sure to appear. That they can't get a foot in the door means job security and satisfaction for all. Pump and dump are the watchwords of the vulture capitalist, their frustration is everyone else's gain.

But to cut a medium sized ramble short, breadth of skills will be more important than depth for many jobs in the near future, and I don't think we're in an app bubble.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343799)

my friend it's pretty clear from what your saying that you really don't know a thing about technology. even if you did, you are still missing the point.

it's true that browsers on mobile are garbage, and thus it's been possible for apps to become a great way to sell webpages to people.

but if the kind of suckers that buy iphones and 'smartphones' generally, run out of cash, then that will be that. do you see?

the world economy is screwed. it may take a while before everyone realizes that the party is over, but for most countries the music has stopped.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344335)

but if the kind of suckers that buy iphones and 'smartphones' generally, run out of cash

It's pretty funny that you define "suckers" as people that love the convenience of connected devices.

It sounds like in fact you have no idea what the hell is going on, nor what real people like.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (4, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343821)

Convergence is the past, IMHO. Prior to the iPhone, mobile developers tended to resist the idea of custom development for specific platforms. The idea was to use Java everywhere, or some semblance of the Windows API, and to use markup languages to let the client determine presentation. Then Apple said, "screw it, we're going to optimize everything for end users on this specific platform, and let content developers and code developers cope." And it worked. With Metro, Windows is still pursuing unification, and it's (still) not working. Not unlike the transition of Unix to the PC era, which never did work out. (OSX owes practically nothing to Unix at the UI level). And Web Standards bodies are mostly ignored now. Cross-platform applications are almost always beat out by native ones. All somewhat sad, but again, true IMHO.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (5, Interesting)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343689)

That's the strange thing about economic bubbles. You'll see a crazy trend with crazy demand, and it may even sit that way for a long time, and just when you think it is a genuine shift in trends rather than a bubble, it pops. In 1995 some observers saw what they believed to be a tech bubble. 1998 passed, and it was still there. Some economists believed that the business cycle had come to an end (e.g. no more cycles - just consistent sustained growth) due to how far reaching the tech industry was. And what do you know, in 2000 growth stops, and shortly after it pops because it turns out that most players in the tech industry didn't actually have a viable business model (I remember a lot of them were ad driven - e.g. this company makes money by selling ads to that company, which sells ads to another company...) Clearly Bush's fault.

Same thing with the housing bubble, which some were observing as a bubble in 2003, and it took all the way until 2008 before it finally popped. Only since the housing bubble wasn't as entrenched in nearly as many adjacent industries (the banking industry being a notable exception,) the GDP wasn't artificially propped up so we didn't see the miracle economy with the non-existent business cycle that we had in the late 90's. Gingrich claimed he was a pro at balancing the budget and Clinton claimed to be an economics pro, only neither was true, the revenue stream was just artificially high so it gave them both free bullet points on their resume's.

As for mobile, I think there's a bit of hype, but I don't think there's a true bubble. It may scale back a bit as once developers have their apps, they could shed some employees because they merely need to maintain the apps rather than write new ones. Note the uncertain terms I'm using. For example, you've got companies like instagram who doesn't appear to have a viable business model other than being backed by facebook. But then again, you could continue to go through the regular process of new companies coming up and needing new apps before they fold, only for a new one to repeat.

I think as was mentioned earlier though that the mobile sector as a whole is overhyped. You've got people into these shiny new devices, but excitement for them is dying down. Iphones are becoming less popular because it is mostly just incremental upgrades like we saw at the turn of the millennium to 2002 or so, at which point sales sort of leveled off. I predict the same with the Galaxy S4. We'll probably see the sales numbers sit around until the market saturates, and then people will just get to the point that they like sticking with what they have instead of always upgrading. But you ask, how does this effect apps if everybody has a smartphone? One thing I tend to notice, but I don't know if its true because I don't have any numbers (so I could be talking out my ass here) but it seems to me that people tend to do a lot of app shopping when they get a new device. If the waves of new devices stop coming (or rather, the waves of excitement stop,) that might cause the app sales to level off until "the next big thing(TM)".

Re:Is there an app bubble? (2)

ADRA (37398) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343721)

Yikes, "Every brand wants or has an app, and every webapp needs a native mobile counterpart to be taken seriously" sounds like bubbly words to me. Remember when every jack and jill needed a web page of their own? Oh wait... j/k seriously though, with "hundreds of thousands of apps", you'll have to imagine diminishing returns on investment at some point, and when that happens, the pool of employable developers will shrink. How much? Who can tell, certainly not an idle spectator like me. Start recording job sites postings for mobile developers over time. It'll at least be a weak signal of change.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (4, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343749)

Apologies in advance, but I couldn't resist, and it makes the similarities to the last tech bubble glaringly obvious ;)

I'm not sure it is. Maybe I'm biased because I am employed as a web developer, but both front end and back end developers are both incredibly in demand right now. Every brand wants or has a web site, and every webapp needs a Flash counterpart to be taken seriously. Weren't the dotcom bubble predictions back in 1999? I don't think they hold any water any more. Browsers are the future and aren't going anywhere.

Instead of an "e-", add an "i-". Otherwise, seen it before. In the end, the "app" market in general, like web sites, aren't going anywhere, but with almost 1M iOS apps and growing, it's going to hit a point of diminishing returns. I have a half dozen apps that are no longer supported and don't even work on the latest iOS devices; it's starting to remind me a bit of the growing graveyard of failed dotcom websites in 2002...

That's a indication of demand, not diminishing (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344321)

I have a half dozen apps that are no longer supported and don't even work on the latest iOS devices

Mostly that's because they cannot find developers to update them. The app market is no-where near any kind of ceiling in terms of the possible universe of applications.

Re:That's a indication of demand, not diminishing (1)

Dahamma (304068) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344405)

Mostly that's because they cannot find developers to update them.

Eh, how do you know what apps I have installed? :)

The current app-rot has little to do with available developers. It's because they were cheap (maybe even free) apps that made no money, have run their semi-useless course, and therefore there is no motivation to continue supporting them. Again just like many unnecessary web sites in 2002...

There's no evidence of inflated prices (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344213)

The more important question, from the economic view, is whether apps are overpriced. Given the number of free and 99 cent apps, and considering that we were used to $200 software titles before, that hardly seems realistic.

If anything, apps are evidence that the $400 productivity suite bubble has popped.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344251)

It's only a bubble because the media calls it so. They like to latch on the latest shiny and hype it beyond all sense of reason. Simple fact of the matter is that to use all this technology we need software, and software needs updates to fix bugs and/or adapt to users needs. Android and iOS are here to stay, just like all the other OS that have become mainstream.

The real trick however is to work on programs that stand the test of time instead of all this "here today, gone tomorrow" junk that's flooding the markets. Sadly that's no easy feat since it requires cooperation of all departments involved and that each of those departments operate at good efficiency.

I simply can't wait for the "bubble to burst", because that directly translates into "we'll stop pooping in your sandbox", that is when the real application development begins.

Re:Is there an app bubble? (4, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344509)

but both Android and iOS developers are both incredibly in demand right now

You're describing what traders avoid: buying into a bull market.

Not that many years ago, web developers were in great demand too. Remember, the last one in becomes toast.

Now, it's possible that app development will go counter to every other economic sector and stay small and diverse, but it's more probable that in a few years there will be a lot fewer entities making all the apps.

Weren't the app bubble predictions back in 2010?

And there were economists warning in 2006 that mortgage-backed securities were headed for a huge crash. But people still bought in because it was still going up. Demand was great, after all. And they got burned (and burned everything down). The warnings were correct, they were just early.

If your time frame for a career developing apps is very short, then you're OK. If you're forty-something and think it's going to carry you to retirement, you're probably in for a correction.

Best to do what you like and do what you're good at and don't try to predict the future. Listen to Chuang Tzu for the best career advice:

"Do not seek fame. Do not make plans. Do not be absorbed by activities. Do not think that you know. Be aware of all that is and dwell in the infinite. Wander where there is no path. Be all that heaven gave you, but act as though you have received nothing. Be empty, that is all."

funny that (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344553)

Mobile is the future and isn't going anywhere.

I can't tell if you are very enthusiastic, or a very sly troll. "Mobile isn't going anywhere" should be a bumper sticker. Sounds like the whole thing is well grounded in the cloud.

n/t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343449)

Hey faggots; I'm just trying out my new chrome spellcheck.

The word spellcheck isn't in the damn thing. It should be considered a noun this day in age.

Should have corrected that too. But I guess I could care less. The jig is up. French benefits.

Re:n/t (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344327)

But I guess I could care less.

It should be I couldn't care less, cunt. And to those who's thinking about defending the use of I could care less, don't. You're wrong, and that's that.

Don't overspecialize (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343453)

Programmers should be able to take on a wide variety of tasks. Fortunately, smart phones are not alien space technology with nothing in common with computers. From the point you're at now, you should be able to branch out to things like desktop graphics-based apps and perhaps GPU computing without too much trouble. You should prepare yourself for this *now* so that you don't find yourself scrambling if the smartphone app business doesn't go where you want it to. Remember, what your prof teaches you in college is maybe 10% of what you need to know. (Not kidding, that really is the deal, you should be doing A LOT of coding on your own time in order to learn how to operate without that safety net & get enough patterns stored in your head that you can tackle harder problems in the future.) Good luck!

Re:Don't overspecialize (1)

Joe Behymer (2827761) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343567)

I heard this specific advice when I was graduating and followed it. Now I realize I can get hundreds of jobs, but those who make the big bucks are specialists.

Re:Don't overspecialize (2)

Pseudonym (62607) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343793)

Those who make the big bucks are specialists who were lucky enough that their specialisation (whether chosen or not) is the right specialisation. But those who make the really big bucks are ultra-generalist entrepreneurs. You'd hardly call Gates, Zuckerberg or Jobs "specialists".

Services (4, Insightful)

kramer2718 (598033) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344139)

Apps may or may not stick around, but one trend will continue: the increase in service oriented computing [wikipedia.org] .

I.e. computing functionality is being broken down into modular services (usually web services [wikipedia.org] ) that are simple enough and independent enough to be easily scaled horizontally but that can be composed in order to provide richer more complex functionality.

If you understand this architecture, it will help your marketability immensely whether you are writing end user interfaces (such as apps) or building the aforementioned services.

Good question (1)

TheDarkMaster (1292526) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343475)

I I do not believe in "bubble", but in some applications being successful because they are especially suited for the mobile environment, while others will disappear because they are more suitable for a desktop computer. In my work soon I will have both types

There is no app bubble (2)

psperl (1704658) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343485)

As people transition more and more of their time to Phones and Tablets, the market for iOS and Android apps will only grow. Was there ever a PC apps bubble? A career in software development isn't about "having diverse skills", its about learning whatever you need to know when you need to know it. Sell yourself as someone who is constantly learning and can pick up anything, and you will never go out of style.

App bubble already popped.. (5, Insightful)

nhtshot (198470) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343497)

The App bubble has already popped. The only people that make money writing apps are contractors building them for companies that insist they need an app (even though they probably don't...), employees at companies like that drawing a salary, and the 1 in a million that comes up with the ugly meter. Eventually the marketing departments will realize that "Billy Bob's horse feed insurance" doesn't need a mobile app and all of that will dry up pretty quickly.

If you want to have a long career in development, learn databases. You don't necessarily want to be a DBA since they tend to get tied to a platform and their fortunes rise and fall with it (Foxpro anyone?). But, learn how to manipulate information. There will always be someone willing to pay you to manage their data. Maybe through an application, maybe through an app, maybe through a web interface.

At the end of the day, most of the decent paying technology gigs come from managing information for someone.

I got into this business in the early 90's and was told that by a friend of my father's who had been programming since the 60's. It's the best business advice anyone has ever given me.

Re:App bubble already popped.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343679)

If you want to have a long career in development, learn databases.

More specifically, learn any of the core technologies. If you can do low-level network programming, there's always going to be a demand because so many people can't do that. If you can do core business development (for example, learn the J2EE stack), you'll be doing well (there are still COBOL jobs, and that technology was replaced a long time ago).

Re:App bubble already popped.. (5, Interesting)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343691)

I second this recommendation! Unfortunately most college folks don't understand this at all...

Google isn't about apps... it's about data... Facebook isn't about apps... it's about data... Financial analysis isn't about..err..money... it's about data... at the end of the day, it's ALL about data, how to search it, manipulate it, transform it, transmit it, learn from it, etc., (in sql, hadoop, hive, map-reduce, perl, java, anything!). And this skill isn't likely to ever become irrelevant; there's more data every day gathered by just about all corporations---and every one of them does something with all that data... and will do something *new* with that data in the future.

Re:App bubble already popped.. (4, Interesting)

screwzloos (1942336) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343835)

Came here to say this. Get a solid grasp of SQL to go with your C++ and Java, and there will always be somewhere to work. Regardless of whatever shiny new toy is coming out this week, databases aren't going away anytime soon, so database programmers aren't either.

If it's an option for you, I'd suggest getting a job with the enterprise systems group at your university for a year or two after you graduate. I'm really glad I did. The pay will be below average, but getting my student loans paid off and a couple years of Oracle programming under my belt has put me in a great position to move wherever I want and launch into serious work.

Re:App bubble already popped.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343979)

These guys are correct. Learn the database and service layers as well. If you can fetch and manipulate data, you will in a good position. One thing I notice with a lot of developers these days is the lack of problem solving skills. If things don't work right, learn to debug the issues, don't just toss it over the wall for someone else to try and figure out. Frameworks are great until something doesn't work right or you want to do something off the beaten path. Don't be afraid to dive into issues and you will be just fine.

Re:App bubble already popped.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344109)

FINALLY. Someone posted who isn't an egotistical, know-it-all, dumb ass... Please return to this website again. :.)

Re:App bubble already popped.. (1)

Niris (1443675) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344231)

Thanks for this piece. This is actually one of the things I heard early on in my degree program because they had the campus DBA teaching our databases class. Funny enough, I think only myself and one other person took his advice and learned general SQL and database structures, and it's already helped me in almost every project I've worked on.

C++ (1)

uberbrainchild (2860711) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343501)

Focus on learning more C++, should be around for a while and if not it will help you understand other languages and make it easier to pick up. I am a PHP and Objective-c developer starting my last year in college after the summer and I recently started a android app project and found it pretty easy to understand due to my knowledge of other languages. Taking courses in C/C++ and making some games with openGL has really taught me more and I love it.

Re:C++ (2)

Joe Behymer (2827761) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343595)

This is fairly good advice. Another tidbit of advice - don't take advice from fellow graduates. :D

Re:C++ (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343773)

More advice: for any piece of sound advice you read on Slashdot, there will be another one that takes the exact opposite opinion, only it will be more emphatic (the author doesn't just 'think' such and such, he *knows for sure*) and will be modded higher.

Re:C++ (4, Insightful)

Pseudonym (62607) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343925)

I agree that this is good advice to start out. But if you really want to be a retargetable developer who can pick up a new area quickly, you need to know at least five to a minimum level of competence.

Four of the languages that you need to know reasonably well are: an object-oriented language (C++, Java, and C# are all close enough to being object-oriented languages that one of them will do), a scripting language (Perl, Python, and Ruby are all fine choices; even modern JavaScript isn't too bad), a functional language (Haskell or Scheme are the obvious choices), and a logic/relational language (a dialect of Prolog which supports CLP is probably the theoretically "best" option, but for most developers SQL seems to do the job).

One of these four will probably be your "primary" language. There's one more language that you need to know reasonably well, and that's a "pure" form of your primary language. So, for example, if you spend most of your time in Java, learn Smalltalk to see what object oriented programming is supposed to be in its purest form.

You need to know enough about these other languages that it prevents you from thinking in a language. You need to think in the abstract, and then realise that abstract idea into a language. Knowing more than one programming language makes your code better, even if you never use them most of the time.

Re:C++ (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344071)

Of all that not one mention of C. To me, that is the language that you should learn and base your other language knowledge on. It gives the greatest understanding of exactly what is going on inside the code without having to delve down to assembly. Get a good knowledge of C and your knowledge of other languages workings increases dramatically.

Re:C++ (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344519)

I started off on C, and I agree in principle. Personally, I think my "thinking about solutions" improved monumentally after I learnt Scheme. C is low-level with respect to hardware, Scheme is low-level with respect to algorithms.

Re:C++ (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344607)

Boy us programmers sure work too fsckin' hard. You don't see lawyers saying they need to know 5 types of law, or doctors saying they need to specialize in 5 types of business. Than again Doctors and Lawyers have unions...

Re:C++ (1)

Pseudonym (62607) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344639)

It's not exactly working hard, though. Like good programmers, good lawyers like their job so much that they are willing to do at least some of it for free if it's for a good enough cause.

App bubble or Dumb People? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343503)

It's called supply and demand.. if a gang of idiots wish to spend a dollar a pop on some barking dog noise app then let them.

There's no concern about a 'bubble' for anyone unless they are shareholders in a publicly traded company, or work for said company. You lose nothing if yahoo wastes 30 million on some new feed for their own stories.

The only bubble that should be thoroughly examined right now that affects you directly is quantitative easing and how the endless printing of money fucks everyone, or the bailouts you pay for out of your own taxes for big corporations. (I love the pussy 45+ year old crowd that has allowed this to happen, you allowed the fucking over of an entire generation or 2 while you collect social security - blissfully ignorant of how you fucked everyone - collect on the bubble and leave us 45 and under crowd with the bill- Fuck you , you were never the greatest generation and never ever ever will be. perhaps the most pussy spineless greediest generation yes.)

Luckily, having real tech skills will lead to an immunity from any bubble. The coming inflation bubble that will pop will be bad, but for techs we will always have a job - demand. the asshole who made the barking dog app - their bubble will pop. But someone with real engineering ingenuity you will never have to worry - inflation, taxes, or anything be damned.

Re:App bubble or Dumb People? (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343769)

Bubble's can effect many adjacent industries. For example, some companies might have many customers who work in that industry, and if those customers go kaput, then so might their sellers.

Intel is in a similar situation. I think it was something like 70% of their sales are to HP and Dell when I looked at their annual 10K a few years ago. If either of those companies folds, intel is in trouble. The scary thing is that this may be a reality soon for both HP and Dell. If you're an employee of intel, that could concern you. If you depend on any of intels technologies for a product you make, that should concern you as well, even if the industry you work in has no indications of collapsing any time soon. Even if intel is still available to sell to you, their prices might jump due to economies of scale.

Re:App bubble or Dumb People? (1)

servognome (738846) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344207)

Intel is in a similar situation. I think it was something like 70% of their sales are to HP and Dell when I looked at their annual 10K a few years ago. If either of those companies folds, intel is in trouble.

The industry isn't vertically integrated like that. If Dell and HP go under, then the companies poisitioned to take their place like, Lenovo or Acer, are still shipping computers with Intel chips. It's like lobbyists who donate to both major US parties so that no matter who gets elected they still win.

Re:App bubble or Dumb People? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344241)

Last I heard, Intel was actually expanding their mobile development branch out in Hillsboro, OR.

Re:App bubble or Dumb People? (1)

sirsnork (530512) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344275)

Just because a company folds it doesn't mean there isn't a market for the goods they sold.

If Dell or HP fell over, someone else would step in to fill the void, sure they may not get quite as big as either HP or Dell were, but there is still a market there to service, and that market wants Intel

I'd worry about gaining some common sense first (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343527)

There is no app bubble. The majority of the world's population has their own cell phone now. That trend is only going to get closer and closer to everyone owning one.

Even if people won't make money from shitty apps no one uses, there will be plenty of jobs for people who are willing to work on the apps like normal developers writing software for someone else.

Don't worry. (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343547)

You'll be able to show on your resume/cv that you've picked up what's needed to be done, worked with a fair few apps, and be able to apply what you've learned in all sorts of places. The stuff you're learning now will be invaluable for all later stuff, and you're lucky enough to be in an area that's also demanding high prices. Could be a lot worse. Enjoy it, soak it all up, save for the next thing to learn, make contacts, keep libraries/fragments of code for later stuff.

+1 on save for the next thing (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344415)

soak it all up, save for the next thing to learn, make contacts

Indeed. If you get a good gig while mobile is growing so fast, remember hard times WILL come. There are thousands of other young (and old) developers learning the next thing, competing for your next job. Some major events will strike the industry. You may get injured, who knows, but shit hapeens, it's certain that some kind of shit will happen. When good times come use them to prepare for leaner times.

Embedded systems (1)

roc97007 (608802) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343557)

Check into embedded systems. A lot of your skill set will transfer, and it's another expanding field.

Re:Embedded systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344005)

Only if he is writing the GUI interface for some embedded system, doing any real embedded development has very little related to mobile app development (although app developers would greatly improve their quality if they had to understand things like processor and memory budgets)

Re:Embedded systems (1)

Svartalf (2997) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344501)

This depends on the "embedded development", really.

A UI for a piece of networking gear's embedded development- and corresponds pretty well, actually.

Never was an app bubble (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343561)

Since the beginning, it's always been hard to make a living just writing apps, you have to be really lucky, have great marketing, or work for a company that makes something else that happens to need an app.
However, the skills necessary to write apps have always been in high demand, at least here in Silicon Valley, California. Even though the rest of the country was going through high unemployment the last six or so years, the company I've been working for and others around here have never been able to get enough skilled developers.
Be flexible, and best of luck.

Get two friends (2, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343587)

spend a weekend brain storming.
Create your own company.
Make a go.

You're skills are fine.

Bubble? (3, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343613)

You mean, companies that have no business plan except leech off investors until a profit model magically appears? Those are the kind of companies that fail when tech bubbles pop.

But there are tons of smartphones, and tons of people who want apps for their smartphones. As long as you work on something that has a real market and makes real money you don't have to worry about 'bubbles'.

Amazon S3 or Windows Azure (2)

cablepokerface (718716) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343627)

Gather lots of knowledge on cloud development. It's a much slower moving, but very certain, change coming. Even the most hardcore nay-saying managers or admins (who will always whine about security as long as they can scare people) who want to keep it all in house are going to fold for the cheap allocation of VM's in the cloud. That's where your software will be running in about a decade (again, it's slow moving). But companies will own fewer and fewer physical servers.

Re:Amazon S3 or Windows Azure (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344137)

Somebody has to admin the "cloud" you know...

Software dev like other creative industries (1)

blarkon (1712194) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343703)

Software development is like any other creative industry and what happened to the music industry is now happening to software development. The days where you could charge more than a couple of bucks for all but the most widely used applications are gone.

Bubble? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343723)

It is getting harder to make money in apps (i.e. it now has to be good), but the slope of mobile device sales is very steep, and will not decrease anytime soon.

Culling the Weak and Lame != Bubble (1)

Kagato (116051) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343741)

One of the problems in the mobile app space is the number of folks who fancied themselves good at CSS and some JavaScript framework and parlayed that into a creating some pretty weak sauce mobile apps. There's way too many folks like that in the market place, and frankly they need to be culled.

I will make this point, Apps often need to talk to something. You should understand the ecosystem end to end. If you can pop a web service up on a cloud instance, and feed that into your mobile app you will be a very valuable player on a team. That may mean learning one of the Java VM languages (Java, Groovy, JRuby, Clojure, Scala, Jython, etc.) or one of the Microsoft .Net/CLI languages C#, etc. Personally I've found there to be way more work and money on the JVM side of the equation. The trendy languages also tend to run in the JVM space, so it's easier to stay cutting edge.

I would not recommend staking your career on things like PHP. They work. They are popular in certain circles. But large companies are usually JVM or .Net.

Diversify (1)

Livius (318358) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343751)

...but beyond that it's simply guesswork. Until you know, keep lots of options open.

If it were easy to distinguish paradigm-shifting new technologies from fads then everyone could do it. The proliferation of technologies is perhaps a sign of a bubble, or perhaps a sign that none of the 'innovations' in, say, the Web, or mobile devices, has quite got it right, and the first one that does will take the computing world by storm.

But frankly, with the experience cited in the summary - machine learning, Java, C++, client and server web development - areas like desktop application development or embedded systems really should not be radical leaps.

Bubble has burst...So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343797)

The fact is, development of mobile apps as an individual and getting rich has come and gone. The marketplace is filled with so many versions of apps that do the same thing.

That being said, enterprise mobile development is hot. Some think that most companies don't really need an app - maybe, they don't. But, most want to offer additional value to their customers or to develop enterprise apps for use within their company to manage the company's business processes.

When the .dotCom bubble burst...many found themselves out of work...briefly. So, the big website isn't really happening. But, most companies still wanted a presence. And, so those developers still make a decent living. The internet hasn't dried up. And, the promise of mobile is just beginning.

And, the skills one learns...assuming it isn't just HTML or HTML5 will be transferable. Grab a little JavaScript, learn Android or iOS programming. And, learn about hybrid solutions that leverage all of the above. Lots of jobs out there for those skill sets. No worries for those who are on top of their game and keep their skills fresh and take opportunities to learn.

Bubble has burst...so what? (3, Insightful)

Ronin Developer (67677) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343803)

Sorry...need to repost...browser had logged me out...grrrr.

The fact is, development of mobile apps as an individual and getting rich has come and gone. The marketplace is filled with so many versions of apps that do the same thing.

That being said, enterprise mobile development is hot. Some think that most companies don't really need an app - maybe, they don't. But, most want to offer additional value to their customers or to develop enterprise apps for use within their company to manage the company's business processes.

When the .dotCom bubble burst...many found themselves out of work...briefly. So, the big website isn't really happening. But, most companies still wanted a presence. And, so those developers still make a decent living. The internet hasn't dried up. And, the promise of mobile is just beginning.

And, the skills one learns...assuming it isn't just HTML or HTML5 will be transferable. Grab a little JavaScript, learn Android or iOS programming. And, learn about hybrid solutions that leverage all of the above. Lots of jobs out there for those skill sets. No worries for those who are on top of their game and keep their skills fresh and take opportunities to learn.

Must have burst by now (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343921)

Maybe it is just me, but how many apps are you buying these days?
I used to find one pr month, most of them games. But I don't really buy games anymore. Most of the reason is that I really hate those in-app purchases. I don't mind spending a couple of $ on a app but not knowing how much it will cost me to complete the thing is not acceptable.
So I just buy apps that performs a function that I need and it's perhaps down to once or twice a year.

Bubbles are mostly irrelevant (2)

obarthelemy (160321) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343927)

1- if you're good at what you do, there'll be work for you. Just make sure to get the message out that you *are*good, on top of being good. Network !
2- Maybe widening your scope is wise, but build on your strengths, don't branch off in a completely unrelated domain. Maybe if you do Android, that means iOS, or maybe that means looking into revenue generation so you can get into independent developing, or maybe looking into low-level (OS, drivers) programming, or maybe graphics, security, databases... Look around you: what skills would help you do your job better ? Which skills are most needed and rewarded in projects around you ?
3- The App bubble will burst for some, and strengthen non-bubbly others. Try and find a good company that's here to stay, with a business plan and credible income projections... not a flash-in-the-pan outfit that's mostly here to part investors from their money. Subcontractors/consultants are usually safer, inquire about the good ones in your area and make yourself known.
4- Don't forget the non-technical stuff. Dress sharp. Be pleasant to work with. Be frank and honest about issues, but don't be a bitchy diva, learn as much tech and relational stuff as you can...

Re:Bubbles are mostly irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344201)

1- if you're good at what you do, there'll be work for you.

This is plain not true -- you may be good, but if no one recommends you for a job you might have to move to a bigger town or city.

Android is the new embedded os of choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43343933)


How to keep a steady job in programming (2)

russotto (537200) | 1 year,21 days | (#43343959)

Learn databases. Figure out how to make software which pulls data out of a database, does some simple calculations, then puts it back in a database. Also learn how to make software which takes data out of a database and puts it in a report. On the Microsoft side there's all sorts of frameworks and tools for this, and it's dead easy.

On the down side, you'll be ready to shoot yourself after a couple of months of this.

The Web is Closest (1)

phasmal (783681) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344021)

I'd be considering how much your skills match 1 page/javascript web applications. They (or the more complex ones, at least) tend to involve UI programming that follows patterns common to all UI code. Since you have some web experience and some UI experience, the gap is probably things like deep knowledge of CSS and javascript (inc quirks).

An intelligent potential employer (assuming you can find one...) would recognise the commonality, and if you had some projects outside of work that delved into Javascript apps, that would give them confidence you could pick up the difference.

youre a grad (almost)... you dont have a specialty (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344031)

... and no-one employing you will expect you to have decent specialist skills for many years..

Look EVERYTHING has gone bust... (1)

PortHaven (242123) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344167)

More automation, an inflated currency, and lame overpriced education.

THERE IS NO WHERE TO GO....might as well give in, let us bite, and turn you into one of the infected masses.


masor (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344209)


masör (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344225)


Put your skills to use and build a portfolio. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344267)

Stop worrying about the "app bubble" and build yourself a portfolio of working products.

In my case, I registered a .com address with my name and built a nice and easy to navigate website that showcases my finished products (complete with videos screen capped from the device simulators), audio and visual works, experiments, etc. For each thing I generally wrote down a little blurb about how I arrived at the results I attained, why I decided to do specific things and sometimes how I achieved my end goals (you have to be very careful not to divulge your techniques though).

The decision to hoist up my own website as my professional portfolio was probably the single most career-changing thing I ever did as a freelance programmer/graphcis designer/musician. Almost instantly, people stopped asking me for paper qualifications and prodding my history and started hiring me simply because they liked what they saw and I'm a nice person to work with. More often then not, someone will come to me with an idea and pick out something from my portfolio and ask me if I can make it as awesome as that. I'll typically say that I can adapt the design aspects they like to better fit their idea for a product, and off we go on a business contract together. I've even had a few offers for jobs from some local studios and one game development company. All of this came through my portfolio website.

So really, the best thing you can do is demonstrate your own skills by assembling a portfolio of things other people can see. If you can do that, then it doesn't really matter if the app bubble bursts. You'll have completed a few projects that you can showcase as a testament to your own abilities, and since a lot of stuff like C++ programming is cross platform you can use your portfolio as an augment to your own CV (or a straight out replacement).

The bar is being raised. (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344317)

As the bar is being raised, either form your own company to produce superior works, or find your way to the companies that are doing this.

database (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344365)

I'll answer your question:

Learn SQL.

Learn relational databases and what they're good for and why.

Then learn big data and what it's good for and why.

Here's the thing.. (1)

XaXXon (202882) | 1 year,21 days | (#43344505)

bubbles exist when there's no real money involved. When it's all about making money in the future and throwing now money at it.

There is no "app bubble". People are paying real money for it, and there's no reason to believe they will stop. Perhaps the investments in companies that make them will pop, but there will never be less money being spent on apps than there is now.

Yes and no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344543)

There is a bubble in-so-far as there is still a gold-rush feel to app development.

There is not a bubble in-so-far as there is a ubiquitous new(-ish) form factor of computer, which requires different types of interfaces to existing applications, and has some new applications.

The question is, are you developing Chaos Rings, or Fart buttons; Mobile Banking apps or 'Check Ur Google Finance Now'.

Breadth vs. Depth (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,21 days | (#43344569)

I am a senior engineer for a tier-one mobile phone manufacturer. I can say, without reservation, that your experience will help you obtain appropriate employment. Your experience with C++ and Java are good. Try to get some javascript and webapp experience as well.

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